YOUTH AND HOMOSEXUALITY
AUTHOR- Kajal Mathur
Co-Author- Vishakha Mahicha
A SOCIETY BEYOND TABOOS
While the relation between youth and sexuality has been a focus of cross-cultural research, the very specific question of homosexuality among youth has received less attention. Such inattention is hardly surprising given the nature of the infamous prejudices concerning homosexuality.
Heterosexuality, since ancient times, is considered as standard form of sexual orientation, while other forms of sexuality (asexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality) were characterized as abnormal and viewed as divergence from normal sexuality (heterosexuality). Worldwide, gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual persons experience vast amount of harassment, victimization and discrimination from society. In addition, many societies still do not provide a safe and supportive environment for sexual minorities to express themselves freely.
In its historic judgement, the Supreme court of India, defanged a 19th century law by decriminalizing homosexuality in India. A five-judge bench held that consensual adult gay sex is no longer a punishable offence by saying that “sexual orientation of an individual is natural and people have no control over it”. The decision follows a long and bumpy road of struggle for gay rights proponents by activists and its community members.
The first challenge to the section 377 was all the way back in December 2001, when a non-governmental organisation, Naz Foundation Trust filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court, stating that it violates the fundamental rights of an individual guaranteed under articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The high court refused the petition by saying that the petitioners had no locus standi in the matter and asked the lower court to reconsider it, which ultimately led to its recriminalization in 2013 by the Supreme court of India in the case Suresh Kumar Kaushal v. Naz Foundation. It took another four years only to start the case anew. By the now issued case, Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. v. Union of India, the supreme court of India finally lift the ban on gay sex.
The law’s demise was a conclusion of a protracted legal battle for LGBTQ community rights, but the fight for societal acceptance of LGBTQ is far from over.
Every person is born a certain way of no choice of their own – such as caste, religion, race, handicaps and looks. Any minority based on any grounds faces the constant threat of persecution by those who are in power. Homosexuals are one of those minorities based on sexual orientation of an individual. In India a ground breaking step was taken, same sex relations were decriminalized. But this is not enough for their upliftment as a community. They still face a lot of discrimination in social circles. There is a certain sort of stigma attached with being a homosexual. They still do not have a lot of basic human rights. In order to survive they have to turn to illegal occupations which always carries a risk of being criminally prosecuted. There are no marriage rules for homosexuals, they cannot adopt children, they do not have proper homes to live in, they are not accepted in jobs, they have difficulty in accessing public facilities and a lot of other problems.
India is a country where cinema is powerful enough to form opinions of viewers. If film portrays the LGBTQ community in a sensible manner, certainly there will be a piercing and positive impact on the mindset of the audience. Various films and tv series have discussed these topics and has spread awareness. Indian movies such as fire, my brother nikhil, shubh mangal zyada saavdhaan and many others have depict homosexuality as normal and tries to break the stereotypes.
To improve the condition of homosexuals in our country the parliament should enact an anti-discrimination law which would guarantee the homosexuals that they cannot be discriminated against. New gender identities should be assimilated in our education system, in our public sector. A nationwide program should be launched to educate such people who had to drop out of the school due to bullying and violence. LGBTQ people should be given reservation in jobs and higher education. In parliament also a seat can be reserved for persons belonging to queer community so that their voice can be heard.
All of this about one level of discrimination but these differences overlap with other differences which exist in the society. Even in cases of homophobic violence a certain hierarchy exists where a person belonging to upper social strata of the society is far less likely to suffer from the level of violence which a person belonging to the lower strata of the society has to suffer from. Queer people often have to face violence from their own family and then from the rest of the society.
To address such intersectionality of discrimination, anti-discrimination laws should be amended to include all axis of discrimination which are prevalent in the society.
We have achieved a lot of freedom for homosexuals and a lot more is still to be achieved.